Rule 39: Yes, or No?

One of the muses in my online life posed a writing prompt the other day. “Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?” My first thought was something along the lines of, “Are you kidding me? “Do you know how many so-called quotations aren’t and how often the person sharing them has no idea what they mean?”

At first, I thought to dismiss the prompt as a fledging AI attempting to show how great it was. You know, something like the sixth grader who made a “three-pointer” for the first time in basketball and is embarrassed trying to repeat the shot during practice the next day. After all, many of the quotations cited on social media are not outstanding bits of wisdom or legitimacy.

The quotation above is something one can hear regularly in some circles. If you do not already recognize it, the problem with the phrase is two-fold. First, it is highly debatable in the minds of many as it may be based on one faith system or another.

Second, attributing the comment to Leroy Jethro Gibbs is compounding the possibility of making a false assertion. If you are not aware, Gibbs is a character in a television series, and the comment is Gibbs’s “Rule 39.” At best, the term in question is the product of a scriptwriter or possibly a bit of plagiarism.

The preceding aside, I have concepts that might stem from misunderstood or fictitious situations. The no coincidences saying is one of those. If you research the thought, you’ll find it attributed to some members of the intelligentsia. You’ll also find it attributed to people of faith from one faith-based system to another. And today, you’ll find it attributed to a Tik-Tok guru with 600K followers.

You will not find coincidences or a clear example of a coincidence that wasn’t. Still, I, like many people, will look at an unlikely “coincidence” and wonder if the universe or some higher power has something to do with it. However, I do not live my life assuming every coincidence was orchestrated by something or someone.

On the other hand, I closely examine such circumstances, attempting to understand if there is more there than meets the eye. In more than a few instances, I believe there was something more than coincidence or luck at play.

For example, I know of one couple who grew up a few miles from each other and never met. They went to rival high schools and had friends in common but never met. After high school, they left their hometown for colleges hundreds of miles from each other. Both married, raised children, and divorced, swearing they would never marry again. Years later, they attended a Life Skills training program several years apart but never met.

Then years later, they were invited to a special event and celebration for someone involved in the training. Both were scheduled to be somewhere else that weekend, but strangely enough, both were forced to cancel those plans and reluctantly decided to attend the event.

The details from that point forward can be summarized like this. They were introduced to each other at the party, but they never spoke again beyond the greetings. A year later, they were married and have been together for twenty-nine great years.

Yeah! Meeting at that party was just a coincidence. Talking her into going out with me took every bit of negotiation skill I had.

© 2023

About S. Eric Jackson

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1 Response to Rule 39: Yes, or No?

  1. The Hinoeuma says:

    Heh. I used to love NCIS. His rules were funny. Then, somewhere along the way, Harmon ran Donald Bellisario off and did something to freak out Pauley Perrette. Old age made him cranky?

    Anyway, my personal quote I live by is “I do not consent.” That is usually followed by “I don’t f***ing think so.”

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